Walter E. Williams

Let's look at drought and AIDS. Zimbabwe's next-door neighbor is Botswana. Botswana has the world's second-highest rate of AIDS infection, and if there's drought in Zimbabwe, there's likely a drought in Botswana, whose major geographic feature is the Kalahari Desert, which covers 70 percent of its land mass. However, Botswana has one of the world's highest per capita GDP growth rates. Moody's and Standard & Poor gives Botswana an "A" credit rating, the best credit risk on the continent, a risk competitive with countries in central Europe and East Asia.

Botswana compared to her other African neighbors prospers not because of foreign aid. There's rule of law, sanctity of contracts, and in 2004, Transparency International ranked Botswana as Africa's least corrupt country, ahead of many European and Asian countries. The World Forum rates Botswana as one of Africa's two most economically competitive nations and one of the best investment opportunities in the developing world.

Botswana shares a heritage with Zimbabwe, for it, too, was a British colony. What it doesn't share with Zimbabwe explains its success: the rule of law, minimal corruption and, most of all, respect for private property rights. No amount of western foreign aid can bring about the political and socioeconomic climate necessary for economic growth. Instead, foreign aid allows vicious dictators to remain in power. It enables them to buy the allegiance of cronies and the military equipment to oppress their own people, not to mention being able to set up "retirement" accounts in Swiss banks. The best thing westerners can do for Africa is to keep their money and their economic development "experts."

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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